Monday, February 26, 2007

Austin Marathon - pictures

I posted a few photos of my son and me during the weekend of the Austin Marathon from February 16-18. Click here to view them on the main Faithful Soles web site.

Friday, February 23, 2007

If you don't read a single other post on my blog, please read this one...

I am a firm believer in asking for and telling people what you want, especially something that you are very passionate about, so I am doing that here. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to read this. Whether you are a regular visitor to my blog or this is your first time here, I want you to understand that my entire focus is to do whatever I can to spread the word about the main Faithful Soles web site so that I can help get young people involved in our PR10K (Promote Running for 10,000 Kids) program that helps them establish a walking or running program. This idea all started for me last fall when I was asked to come out to a school in an underpriviledged area to help coach a group of 5th and 6th graders to run their first 5K. This school has students through junior high, and I found out that they have a great group of 7th and 8th graders on their cross-country team who love to run, but many of them are doing so in street shoes (a great friend of mine, Debbie Goldberg, who organized this, was able to work to obtain running shoes for them). The track they run on is in back of the school, and is basically nothing more than a cracked asphalt path, and before the kids can play on the playground area adjacent to it, we were asked by the school administrators to sweep the area each time for drug paraphernalia left behind by addicts who come onto the grounds at night (the picture below is one of our training sessions on the track and that is my son in the back left running with them as a mentor in the program).

Through all of this, these kids have amazing attitudes in circumstances that most of us can not imagine. When they run or walk a certain distance and we pat them on the back or give them a hug and tell them "great job!", their faces absolutely light up, and I can not wait until later this spring when all of them complete their first 5K and get their medals. My goal now is not only to help these youth, but as many youth as I can everywhere and introduce them to running. Every single time we get a new member on Faithful Soles, whether they are joining for themselves or have gotten a membership for someone in their family or for a friend, or if someone doesn't necessarily want a membership, but simply wants to sponsor a youth, I am happy because I know they understand what I am trying to accomplish. More importantly, I know it means one more youth in an underserved area who I am able to provide a matching membership to that will help them to learn goal setting skills, start a walking/running program where they can track their progress, and receive a "Goal Achievement Certificate" once that goal is reached. All of these things are designed to help build their self-esteem. Many of you who read my blog have already joined as a member or sponsor, including individuals, families and businesses, and I am so grateful for your support. If you want to be a part of this, it takes less than 5 minutes to join, and a membership is $15.00 for a year ($25.00 for 2 years), and sponsorships are also available for a suggested amount of $15.00 (the cost of a regular membership, and with a sponsorship in this amount or more you receive a free membership to keep for yourself or to give as a gift), or you can sponsor for any other amount more or less as you see fit. Please go to the "Membership Overview" page to learn more about what all a membership entails with links to our membership and sponsorship enrollment pages.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Short and Long-Term Goals

Now that I've had time to be home for a couple of days (by the way, marathoners should never have homes with stairs during post-race recovery), I have started to think a bit about what I want to do in the short and long term as far as my running goals. I never have had a magic number of marathons I've wanted to complete (16 so far), so there's no number out there like that lurking in the distance for me. As far as running accomplishments, I have 3 Boston Marathon medals, and that's 3 more than I ever thought I would have, so there is nothing left to prove to myself as far as that goes (ok, another Boston medal would be nice, I won't lie). In reflecting where I've come from and what I still want to achieve, here is the basic list as I see it right now as I sit at 47 years old through my 50th year in 2010:

1. At some point in the next 3 years, I want to run the Pikes Peak Marathon (August) and Death Valley Marathon (December), sort of a celebration of the highs and lows if you will.

2. December of 2009 - Jacksonville Marathon in Florida where I was born, and it will be run just a few days after my 50th birthday.

3. Qualify for and run Boston again, hopefully when I'm 50 in 2010. Coincidentally, that year my son's 18th birthday is on the day of the Boston Marathon, and he can run in it. It would be almost impossible for him to qualify (sub-3:00), but there are a limited number of charity spots available and I'm going to start lobbying for one of those the year before. How cool would that be to run the Boston Marathon on your 18th birthday with your 50 year old father? ok, maybe not cool to most 18 year olds, but my son and I are best buddies and I've already planted the bug in his ear and he seems fired up about it.

4. I want to do my first ultra this December at Sunmart in Huntsville, Texas. I can choose between the 50K (31.0 miles) or the 50 miler. Knowing my personality, I'm sure I'll end up doing the 50 miler. Besides, when I slow down and am not racing a marathon distance, I can run forever.

5. 2008 and 2009 - A half-Ironman and an Ironman (at least one Ironman, perhaps 2 or 3).

6. These are all probably not feasible in the next 3 years, but at some point I want to do the New York, Chicago, Paris and London Marathons (these are 4 of the 5 world majors with Boston being the 5th).

7. Ultimate for me I think would be to do a 100 miler and eventually the Badwater Ultra-Marathon. I was built mentally and physically to go forever, not fast mind you, but forever.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Austin Marathon - Race recap

For those of you that have been following my blog up to this point, you already know that the Austin Marathon on February 18 was my 16th marathon (4th Austin Marathon), and I ran it with a very bad left shin splint that I have been trying to get over since the first of the year. I was taking it as easy as I could for the first 15 miles or so at about an 8:30 pace (a full 30-50 seconds slower per mile than my normal marathon racing pace), but the pain started to be too much to bear, so starting at mile 16 I decided to walk for 3 minutes, then run to the next mile marker for as long as I could keep that up. At mile 21, the pain was too much, so I simply walked the final 5 miles to the best of my ability. I knew that my family was waiting for me about 200 yards from the finish line, so I mustered up enough to "run" past them down to the finish line. I still finished in a respectable 4:32:02 and am proud that I accomplished my main goal of simply finishing without any expectations as to a particular time. I got to visit with a lot of really neat people over those last 5 miles, some of them members and readers of Faithful Soles who saw my tshirt from the back with the Faithful Soles logo and simply stopped to walk and talk with me, all at the expense of their own time. My 14 year old son Robert ran his second half-marathon in 2:25:51, beating his previous best at Houston last month by 3:59, which is amazing considering that Austin was one of the hilliest courses I have ever run.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Austin Marathon - 1 day and counting... and Round Rock Fit

Last night I gave the keynote motivational speech to a group of about 100 walkers, runners and their families who are members of Round Rock Fit, one of the local chapters of USAFit here in Austin. About half of those in attendance will be doing their very first marathon or half-marathon tomorrow, and prior to my speaking there were some amazing and emotional testimonies from some of these great folks. One in particular was Judy, a lady who will be walking the half-marathon, and who originally set out to do this as a weight loss program. Not only has she lost 40 lbs., but more importantly she talked about the way the whole experience has changed her life for the better. As she spoke, there were slides in the background of her from when she started until now. Not only could you see the transformation in her physical appearance, but more importantly, I saw the transformation in the smile on her face, and how much greater it was as she progressed. I am always humbled by how powerful this entire experience is to witness people accomplishing things they never thought were possible.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Austin Marathon - 2 days and counting... and the peace within

For those of you that have been following my journey here through my recovery of my left shin splint injury leading up to my 16th marathon this Sunday, I appreciate your interest and thought I would share with you my thoughts as I prepare to head to Austin. This will be my first marathon since January of 2004 when I hobbled my way through the Houston Marathon with a groin pull. For the remainder of 2004, I rested that injury and cut back considerably on my running, even deferring what would have been my 4th Boston Marathon that April to 2005. In late 2004, my daughter made her high school drill team as a sophomore for the 2004-2005 school year, which here in Texas is a REALLY big deal. My wife and I have always been very active in our kids lives, and when I found out that the drill team's big spring show required Dads to get together on weekends to build props, I jumped right in. That cut out any chance for training for the Boston Marathon, but having already run it 3 times, it was way more important to me to be involved in what my daughter was doing, so I passed on it totally again. The next school year, 2005-2006, I was the Dad that headed up the entire spring show for building stage sets, and that takes nearly 3 months of work on the weekends, so again my training was cut back considerably pretty much nixing any opportunity for serious marathon training, but I did not mind at all. This year, her senior year, I'm heading up the spring show stuff again, so even if I did qualify for Boston in April, I wouldn't be going because the show is that weekend. I say all of this because I am completely at peace with my running and what I have accomplished through it. My running is no longer about me at all, it's about helping others. I honestly do not have a clue how I will do on Sunday, but I do know that I will finish. I know what to expect, I know there will be pain and doubt and all that goes with completing a marathon, but I've been there before and I know how to mentally and physically handle it. I know that while I am in the race there will be lots of people around me doing this for the first time, and I hope that I am able in some way through my experience to help them along on their journey. My thoughts will also be with my 14 year old son who will be there running in his second half-marathon. I was with him in Houston last month when he completed his first half-marathon, but this time he'll be going it solo and I know he will do great. Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Austin Marathon - 3 days and counting... and some cool announcements

I did a bit over an hour on the elliptical last night (average 85-90 rpm and heartrate got up to about 110 max). I also did something I have not done before, which is bring a book to prop up and read, "Into Thin Air", which I've already read once. It really made the time go by more quickly. If you are not familiar with this book, it's about climbing Mt. Everest and the tragedy that occured in 1996, which cost 8 climbers their lives. Reading this book makes me doing marathon look like I'm going out to get my newspaper in comparison to what these people go through.

Announcement 1: If you are participating in the Austin Marathon or Half-Marathon this Sunday and are looking for something to do on Friday night before the race, I will be the keynote motivational speaker, as well as providing running tips, at a dinner put on by Round Rock Fit (one of the local USAFit groups based just outside of Austin). If you want more information, just click here to go to the Faithful Soles news section.

Announcement 2: The categorized and searchable Running Blog Database has officially surpassed 100 bloggers in the first 15 days, with 31 states in the USA and 16 other countries being represented with people of all ages and abilities! What I am most proud of is that I am not adding any of these people at all, this is the bloggers themselves going to the site and linking their blogs, which tells me that people really do see and understand the benefit of it. If you want to link your blog (it's free to do so), it only takes about 2-3 minutes to do so, and you can access the page by clicking here. If you want to visit the blog database, there is a link to the upper right here on my blog page.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Austin Marathon - 4 days and counting... and Happy Valentine's Day

Short stint on the elliptical last night for about 30 minutes, just taking it easy.

Happy Valentine's Day to my beautiful wife of 22+ years and to my daughter and son. Thank you for putting up with my running and ADHD personality. I love you all!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Austin Marathon - 5 days and counting... and youth

It rained last night, so my 14 year old son who will be doing his second half-marathon in Austin (just did his first half-marathon in Houston last month and it was truly one of the most cherished experiences of my life to see him cross the finish line) went with me to the YMCA to run on the treadmill while I did the stationary bike. We just joined the Y a few weeks ago, and this was his first time to go, and his first time to ever run on a treadmill. Now you have to know, my son is my best buddy in the world, but I'm still Dad, and regardless of the fact that I've done x number of marathons, have given countless motivational speeches to running groups as well as talks on running tips, I'm still Dad, which means that I know nothing (and my parents knew nothing, and your parents knew nothing, you get the picture). So, he gets on the treadmill and I get him started. He insists (Dad advises otherwise) to set the machine to a pace that I knew was too hard, so I let him do it. I go over to the bike and start my routine. Not 10 minutes later, there he is standing beside me pouring sweat insisting that I had set the machine too hard. I just smiled and told him to get on the stationary bike next to mine. He does. I tell him to set it this way and that way, and try to keep it around 75-80 rpm. Then trouble. A group of teenage girls from his school walk in and start exercising around us. I look over and he's about 100 rpm. I leaned over and said as softly as I could, "Buddy, slow down." The response, "Oh Dad, don't worry, I can keep this up." About 5 minutes passes and he is done. I just smiled and leaned over and patted him on the back. He takes a break and starts up again, this time wanting to increase the tension (again, against my advice). Same results. He looks at me and says smiling, "I hate it when you're right." One thing I love about him, he learns from his mistakes, so I don't mind letting him take a bit of a fall every now and then to help him learn how to pull himself back up.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Austin Marathon - 6 days and counting... And "Pimp My Running Shoes"

Left shin splint update: I decided last night to test the limits of what pain, if any, I still might have. I did a full flex up of my toes on my left foot as far as I could get them to go, and there is a tiny area, maybe the size of a dime, that has a little pain, but nothing like it was a a few weeks ago. When I pointed my toes down, same result in the same area. I'm just going to stick with the Aleve, ice, rest, ointment routine, and still will not run a step until next Sunday.

I did not exercise any yesterday, but I did get some errands run in preparation for the marathon next weekend. I picked up a new pair of Nike Pegasus TC's (the racing flat, not the normal Pegasus) and have been walking around in them getting them broken in. They are jet black with white laces and solid yellow bottoms, with some shiny black areas. Are they ugly? Yes. They look like they could have been on an episode of "Pimp My Running Shoes", but hey, as long as they get the job done, I don't care. And yes, I know that conventional wisdom is not to wear "new" shoes on a first run, but I have raced in these for years (3 fastest times ever in these shoes) and they typically are fully broken in for me after only 2-3 days of walking around. Besides, since I'm now not running Austin for time, if something should go wrong with them, I'm giving my wife my backup pair of training shoes I've been wearing and I can just stop on the course and change shoes (by the way, those are Asics Speedstars, a bright yellow not found in nature, what's up with these shoe colors?). I plan to go to the YMCA tonight for the elliptical again, and will probably do it daily through Thursday, then rest up completely on Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Austin Marathon - 7 days and counting... And the big WHY?

I woke up this morning for the first time in at least a month and had absolutely no pain in my left shin. I flexed my foot up, and I flexed it down, expecting at least of twinge of something that said it still hurt, but nothing, zero. Does that mean I'm going to lace up the shoes now and hit the road? Nope, I have not quite yet reached that level of stupidity. I'm sticking to the elliptical, and the next running step I take will be next Sunday when the gun goes off to start the marathon.

ok, the big "WHY?"... I have gotten a lot of emails and feedback on the main Faithful Soles web site. In the past month I've contacted probably close to 500 people about listing their blogs in the database there, joining the site, submitting stories, nominating a Runner of the Week, etc. The emails and feedback I have gotten are honestly 95% or better favorable, but that 5% or so, and I have to think in the back of my mind that at least some of the 95% and many who have not emailed or sent any feedback, are really wondering why I do this. I wrote a story for the site about 2 months ago that I wanted to share with you here, so if you are in this "why" category or just generally curious, please read "A Non-Athletic Geek is Born". I don't think there is anything else that I could add to my "why" than what is stated there.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Austin Marathon - 8 days and counting

I did not do any exercise yesterday, decided to just rest the leg all day. This morning I returned to the YMCA, did a similar routine on the elliptical as day before yesterday, finished with almost zero pain or discomfort. My main hope is that the cardio part of it and the way I'm positioning my legs to simulate hill climbing, especially in my quadriceps, is actually going to help me in Austin because you basically climb from mile 8 to mile 18. Were I doing my normal training right now, I would be on totally flat ground (the only "hill" within miles of me is a bridge in Kemah about 10 miles away that goes over the bay, and it's only about a 1/4 mile climb). The proof in the pudding will be next Sunday when I actually start running. I purchased some additional ball-of-foot padding for my running shoes and have been walking around in those to make sure they soften the blow, and I can tell a huge difference in the cushioning just when I walk.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Austin Marathon - 9 days and counting

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest), the shin pain is down to below 5 now. The swelling is gone and so is the redness. I'm going to remain smart and not run on it at all. I went back to the YMCA last night to try the elliptical trainer again, and I think I might have had better results. I got on a different one that was able to measure heartrate and a bunch of other stuff. I set it to a "hilly" course and started at it. The first 15 minutes or so I was still discouraged, because my heartrate was barely getting above 70 (my normal resting rate is 35-38 bpm). I increased the level of tension and finally got it to where I felt a level of effort without having to push down too hard on the pedals. It took me a good 30+ minutes to get the heartrate up to above 90, then around 45 minutes I finally topped 100, then really pushed it for 15 more minutes with an RPM of about 85-90 and got the heartrate up to maybe 110-115. I ended up staying on for about an hour and 15 minutes total and worked up a pretty good sweat and felt as if I had at least gotten my legs a decent workout. It still doesn't replace the running workout for my upper body, and I feel a bit awkward just sitting there with my arms hanging down or resting on bars, but I guess that's what you do. I had considered a stair stepper where you can also move your arms back and forth on the upper bars, but looking at it made me think it might be too much pressure on the left shin.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Austin Marathon - 10 days and counting

I need some input here... Last night, I figured since I can't run, I'll go and try the elliptical machine at the YMCA to get some sort of cardio without the impact. I've never done this before, so I need some advice from anyone who reads this because I was on this thing for an hour keeping it at an RPM of about 75-80, and I have to be honest, I got off of it and felt like I had done nothing. Am I doing something wrong, or is it that running 50+ miles a week has put me in a position where I have to be on it for hours to get any benefit? Anyway, good news is that when I stopped I felt no strain or anything on the left shin.

Running Blog Database and PR10K (Promote Running to 10,000 Kids) update: I am overwhelmed by the response I have gotten from people linking their blogs to the Faithful Soles Running Blog Datbase (link at upper right of this page). I had no idea how this would go over when I started it on February 1, but thus far it is averaging better than 10 bloggers a day linking to it (as of this morning, over 70 bloggers from 24 states in the USA and 12 other countries). The cool thing for me is being able to go on there and selecting, for example, men in my age group who are advanced runners who do marathons and being able to read about what they are doing. I had one lady who told me she felt very alone being a beginning walker, but she has been able to find blogs in her age group of other women who are beginners and reading their entries and it has really inspired her. Probably the thing that has touched me most are the youth and teens in my PR10K program who are reading the blogs and really getting inspired by them. A lot of these youth come from underserved areas and may not live in the best of situations as far as neighborhoods, parents who care, or having a real mentor, and many of the bloggers are inspiring them to show that you can overcome tough obstacles in your life. My goal on Faithful Soles is to continue to get these youth involved in a running or walking program through our memberships. If you have not read about the program, when you become a member of my site, we provide a youth in an underserved area with a matching membership, and we give them a goal setting sheet and a mileage tracking sheet. When they reach the mileage goal they set for themselves, we send them a "Goal Achievement Certificate" with their name and what they accomplished. It is amazing what a difference this is making in their self-esteem. Just think about how you feel when you get that medal at the end of a race, that's what these certificates mean to these young people (by the way, I'm now exploring getting them a medal with the Faithful Soles logo on it with the words "I REACHED MY GOAL!" printed on it, I'll keep you updated on this). Also, I am in the process of talking to a major shoe manufacturer about providing many of these kids with running shoes, something most can not afford. All of this information and more is on my main web site (again, link at upper right of this page).

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Austin Marathon - 11 days and counting

I went to a booster club meeting last night for my daughter's high school drill team which was held in their dance room. They have mirrors up from floor to ceiling all over the place. As I was walking in to take my seat, I looked down in the mirror at my left shin area and was amazed at how red, swollen and inflamed it was, something I had not noticed in looking down at it normally. Thankfully after the meeting was over I ran into one of the team trainers who knows I am a marathoner. She took one look at it and really scolded me for having run at all on it. She recommended I try some ultrasound and switch to Aleve rather than Advil, so I'm scheduling an ultrasound treatment tomorrow and have started with the Aleve.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Austin Marathon - 12 days and counting

On a pain factor scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, the left shin was an 11 this morning. My plan now is very simple: I may not run at all between now and the marathon and just let it completely heal up, then take my time (obviously) on the day of the marathon. The last time I did this, when I had a severe groin pull in 2004, I had not run a single step in 6 weeks and finished the Houston Marathon in just under 5 hours by jogging and walking. This time at least I've gotten several 10-20 milers in over the last 4 weeks, so I should be much better off come start time. I appreciate the comments and emails I have been getting from people.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Austin Marathon - 13 days to go

Reality check: ok, so I ran 15 miles yesterday at a good clip and felt really good about it. This morning when I woke up, my left shin felt like it had been hit with a hammer. I looked down and it had a mouth, and it spoke these words to me, "You are nuts if you think you are going to RUN fast for a full marathon in less than 2 weeks. I'll be happy to jog, walk, stroll along with you for the distance, but if you push me any harder than that, I'm quitting." So as I sit here at about 10:30 a.m. on Monday, I'm abandoning the 3:30 goal and will just do the marathon in whatever time it takes me. I did this in 2004 at the Houston Marathon when I had a severe groin pull, and it actually ended up being probably the most fun I ever had in a marathon. I jogged, walked, stopped and talked to people, did everything I would never get a chance to do if I were focused on running a specific time the whole way.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Austin Marathon - 14 days and counting

I ran a pretty solid 15 miles today (1:55:03, overall 7:40 pace, last mile in 7:24) through a pretty good amount of pain in the left shin for the first 8-10 miles. Over the last 5 miles I felt like it finally began to loosen up, and I just put the hammer down on the last mile to test it and ran the last mile the fastest. I have 70 miles to go to get to the number I wanted to be at when I set out on the shin saga on February 1. I still think with the amount of pain I am having that a sub-3:30 in 2 weeks is not likely, but if I can be smart, eat right, get plenty of rest, do my shin stretches consistently between now and then, anything can happen. Today at least showed me that I'll have no problem in finishing the race. As I've said all along, if I can make 3:30 and qualify for my 4th Boston, that's great. If not, I'll enjoy the day and count my blessings over the mere fact that I have my health and I am able to run.

Side note: I am getting such a great response to people signing up to the Running Blog Database. Please link your blog to it by going to, or go to the home page of my web site to try it out at

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Austin Marathon - 15 days and counting

Rest day today, probably do 10-15 miles tomorrow afternoon. Shin this morning is feeling significantly better, but still pretty sore.

Side note: I have been reading many blogs and posting comments on them introducing people to my Running Blog Database on Faithful Soles, and so far better than half of them have linked their blogs to it. It is very inspiring to read what everyone has to say. At the pace it's on now, I envision having a few thousand blogs linked to it by the end of the year. If you have not yet visited it, please go to and you will find the link to it from the home page (you can't miss it, there's an animated blogger making his entries). If you want to link your blog to the database, just click on "Link your running blog" under "Free features" in the lefthand column (takes about 2 minutes).

Also, I am looking for nominations from around the world from our weekly features of "Runner of the Week", and stories for our "Story of the Week". If you have someone you would like to nominate, or have a story you would like to share, please select the links from under "Free Features" in the lefthand column on the home page.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Austin Marathon - 16 days and counting

Still some pain in my shin, but I was encouraged. I did 7.5 miles again today, this time almost 2 minutes faster than yesterday with what felt like the same effort (first mile in 7:50, last mile in 7:39, overall pace for the whole run about 7:40 per mile). 85 miles to go until February 13.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Austin Marathon (aka - The Shin Splint Saga) - 17 days and counting

2 months ago today, I turned 47. I have a tradition I call the "birthday run" where I run 12.1 miles every year on my birthday (born 12-1). I did that run in a respectable 7:30 pace after having completed 200+ miles for November. I finished December with 200+ miles again, and was running as fast as I have in years. I had Austin in my sites to try to qualify for my 4th Boston Marathon, and I needed a sub-3:30 to do so. On December 31, I would have probably told you I was capable of a sub-3:20. On January 1, I woke up with a soreness in my lower left shin (shin splints) and have been fighting it every day since. I ran maybe 100 miles for the month of January. I've been doing this long enough to know that aches and pains are part of the deal. I ran 5 marathons (2 Houstons, 2 Austins and 1 Boston) with a groin pull in 2001 and 2002. So today, I decided to go for broke over the next 13 days prior to a 5 day Austin taper. If I can get in about 100 miles between now and February 13th with at least one 20 miler around February 8th or so, I might still have a shot at the 3:30. Experience and logic tell me it's a longshot at this point, but heart and guts and years and years of running tell me there's a chance. If I see it's just not doable, I'll back off, run, jog, walk, whatever, and complete my 16th marathon regardless. So today I put in 7.5 miles at an easy 8:00 pace, now just 92.5 miles to go until the 13th.